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rnblishf!d by the American find Foreign Anti-Slavery Society. 






A SKRious study of the question which stands at the head of the follow- 
ing Argument v/as undertaken, nearly a year since, at the earnest request 
of a highly esteemed friend, who has for years been ably advocating the 
cause of truth and j ustice in his weekly journal. The same subject, shortly 
after, v/as assigned me by the ministerial Association to which I belong ; 
and the entire article has been, at different times, submitted to their hearing 
and critical remarks. The Argument is now published under an impres- 
sion that something of the kind is needed ; and with the hope that the views 
here presented may lead to such further consideration of the great question 
discussed, as shall terminate in such action as truth, righteousness, and the 
honor of religion shall demand — especially of those Ecclesiastical Bodies 
which have justly condemned slaveholding as a great sin against both God 
and man, but have never yet withdrawn fellowship either from the corre- 
sponding bodies which give countenance to it, or from such ministers and 
church members as are known to be directly engaged in it. 

Bradford, Vt., March I, 1818. 

H irr 3 G 




Have we Scriptural warrant for withholding fellow- 
ship FROM Churches, or other Ecclesiastical Bodies, 
ON account of their toleration of Slaveholding by 
their members or constituents ? 

When I say have we any sucli warrant, I mean, we ministers, 
churclies, and other ecclesiastical bodies, who believe slavehold- 
ing to be wrong, and wish to govern our conduct towards those 
who are in any way implicated in it, by the principles of the 
gospel. The question now proposed has, for years, painfully oc- 
cupied the thoughts of many of the professed followers of Christ, 
and, beyond doubt, must, before long, be solemnly decided by 
all ecclesiastical bodies opposed to slavery. It is a great ques- 
tion, touching the most sacred interests not only of millions 
now living, but of their posterity in coming ages — a question in- 
volving deeply the honor of God, and the prosperity of his 
kingdom ; a question which ought to be considered most seri- 
ously and candidly ; with prayer, and in the fear of God, that 
it may be settled in accordance with the unchanging principles 
of eternal truth and rectitude. Such an investigation and set- 
tlement of the matter every unprejudiced Christian must sin- 
cerely desire. We need such light on the subject that the whole 
Christian community who are opposed to slaveholding may act 
with unanimity ; rightly and firmly. If what 1 may suggest 
should lead others to do the subject better justice, I shall be 
gratified. I wish to be identified only with the cause of truth 
and righteousness ; and to rejoice always in its prosperity, by 
whomsoever advocated. 

I speak of slaveholding as commonly practiced ; as constituted 
and supported by the laws of the slave States of our Union ; 
and not of special or supposed cases, where the spirit of slave- 
holding is wanting, and the thing has only a nominal existence. 
The general system h not to be understood or judged of by 

such exceptions ; but must be viewed as it really is, and be 
treated according to its ordinary character. Thus considered, 
slaveholding is by many believed to be directly contrary to the 
gospel ; so flagrantly contrary to its spirit and fundamental prin- 
ciples, as exhibited by Christ and his apostles, that those who, 
with the gospel in their hands, believe the practice to be right, 
and attempt to justify themselves in it by divine authority, are 
criminally blind, and before God deeply guilty, though in dif- 
ferent degrees. 

The question in regard to withholding fellowship from 
churches and other ecclesiastical bodies which practise or tole- 
rate such slaveholding, is not whether we ought to declare all 
such to be in our opinion wholly destitute of the spirit of Christ, 
and fit to be ranked only with the ungodly ; but is this, whether 
such slaveholders and the churches or other ecclesiastical bodies 
tolerating them, have not taken such ground and placed them- 
selves in such an attitude, that we ought, out of regard to the 
honor of the gospel and the religion which we profess, to with- 
draw fellowship from them ? Does not their connexion with 
slaveholding constitute a sufficient ground for withholding from 
them those tokens of approbation and fellowship which are com- 
mon among Christians who harmonize with each other ? Shall 
we receive slaveholding ministers into our pulpits, or slave- 
holding individuals into our churches, or honor letters of recom- 
mendation from churches tolerating slavery, or give our mem- 
bers letters of recommendation to unite with them ? Or, more 
especially, shall our public ecclesiastical bodies receive delegates 
from like bodies tolerating slavery, and send delegates to them 
in return, with a view to keep up a brotherly intercourse with 
them ; while our delegates are not permitted to remonstrate 
with them against this crying evil ? Shall we do these things 
as heretofore ? or, after due attempts to remonstrate, wholly 
withdraw from those who persist in these practices, and treat 
them essentially as we do other professed ministers and churches 
among whom there may be more or less pious people, but with 
whom, on account of their errors and unchristian practices, we 
can have no public fellowship ? My own mind has been irre- 
^ sistibly led to a conclusion, which seems to me both rational and 
scriptural, by the following considerations : 

I. Opinions or practices flagrantly contrary to the gospel, and 
pertinaciously maintained, constitute a sufficient cause, accord- 
ing to the scriptures, for withholding Christian fellowship from 
those who maintain them, and from the Churches or other ec- 
clesiastical bodies which tolerate them. 

This has been the general understanding in the Church from 
the beginning of the Christian dispensation. Let the matter be 
fairly considered, and we must be convinced that such has been 
and still is the general rule. Even in the days of the apostles, ' 
great errors and sins appeared in the Church, and subjected 
both those who were immediately guilty of them, and those who 
tolerated them, to the censure of the faithful. Paul, in his 
Second Epistle to the Thessalonians (iii. 6), says, " Now we 
command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 
that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother thatwalketh dis- 
orderly and not after the tradition which he received from us." 
Again, in the same chapter, he says, " We hear that there 
are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, 
but are busy bodies. Now them that are such we command 
and exhort, by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they 
work and eat their own bread. And if any man obey not our 
word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company v>'ith 
him, that he may be ashamed." In his First Epistle to the Co- 
rinthians, ho says, " I have written unto you not to keep com- 
pany if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or 
covetous, or an idolator, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extor- 
tioner ; with such an one, no not to eat," They were not 
allowed to give the least seeming countenance to any of these 
unholy practices ; but must withdraw, wholly, from those who 
persisted in them. Writing to Titus, he says, " A man that is 
an heretic, after the first and second admonition, reject ; know- 
ing that he that is such is subverted and sinneth ; being con- 
demned of himself." In the Apocalypse our Lord highly com- 
mends the church in Ephesus because they hated the deeds of 
the Nicholaitanes, a licentious sect, whose deeds he also hated ; 
and reproves the church in Pergamos because they tolerated 
them that held the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Bahxk to cast 
a stumbling-block before the children of Israel, to eat things 
sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication. Their faith 
and practice in this matter were so contrary to the gospel and 
dishonorable to religion, that the church were bound to exclude 
them, or withdraw from them. From these and similar scrip- 
tures it is obvious that every Christian church is bound to 
withhold fellowship from all other professed Christians, whether 
among themselves or organized into other chui'ches, who hold 
opinions, or allow themselves in practices, flagrantly contrary to 
the doctrine of Christ and the laws of his kingdom. 

That such has been the understanding of Christian people of 
nearly all denominations, in all ages, cannot be denied. All the 
protestant churches have acted on this principle in coming out 


from the Clmrch of Rome, and refusing to have fellowship 
with her, on account of the dogmas held by that Church respect- 
ing the supremacy and infallibility of the Pope ; the celibacy of 
the clergy ; their power to forgive sins and to pray souls out of 
purgatory ; the worship of saints and images ; transubstantia- 
tion ; withholding the Scriptures from^ the common people ; in 
short, their utter corruption of the Christian faith ; and their 
cruel, persecuting spirit and practices. Even different sections 
of the Protestant Church have deemed it their duty to withhold 
fellowship from others. Episcopalians maintain that their 
ministers only among Protestants, have been duly ordained ; 
and that other professed ministers are so but in name, and have 
no authority from Christ to preach his gospel, or administer its 
ordinances ; that other churches have not been duly constituted, 
and ought not to be recognised as standing on equal ground with 
themselves. The Baptists, many of them, reject the Episco- 
palians, and all other ministers and churches who do not prac- 
tice, exclusively, what they consider the only true mode of bap- 
tism. The Reformed Presbyterians withhold fellowship both 
from Episcopalians and Baptists, and other sects generally, be- 
cause they are accustomed to use hymns of mere human compo- 
sition instead of the old Scotch version of the Psalms ; support 
civil governments which are neither founded nor adminstered on 
Christian principles ; and in various other points have deviated, 
in their view, from the path of rectitude. The great body of 
the churches called evangelical, or orthodox, refuse to hold fel- 
lowship with Unitarians and Universalists, because the former 
deny the supreme divinity of Christ and various other doctrines 
held to be fundamental; and the latter maintain that all will 
finally be gathered into the kingdom of God, however they live 
or die. Various sects, in different ages, have been rejected by 
all the rest of the Christicin world, on account of their heresies 
and immoral practices. Now, though some of the causes of 
separation above enumerated are, doubtless, insufficient, yet the 
fact is obvious, that the great body of professed Christians have 
always believed that there may be sufficient and urgent causes 
for withholding fellowship from both individuals and churches, 
claiming, as strongly as themselves, to be the followers of Christ. 
Are there not causes of disunion which must be admitted by 
Christian people generally, to be valid and imperious r Pro- 
testant churches universally believe that the reformers and their 
adherents did right to come out from the Church of Rome, on 
account of its incurable and intolerable corruptions ; and that 
as these corruptions still exist, the separation ought still to be 
maintained. Should any church or denomination maintain that 

the Scriptures were not given by inspiration, and constitute no 
safe rule for human faith and practice ; or that the command- 
ments of the decalogue are no longer binding ; or that Christ 
never laid down his life as an atoning sacrifice ; or that there 
will never be any resurrection of the dead, or future state of 
retribution ; would not such great and dangerous errors be con- 
sidered by Christian people, generally, sufficient cause for with- 
drawing fellowship from their holders, however amiable or wor- 
thy they might in other respects appear ? Or suppose a church 
should hold a creed, in the main correct, but should habitually 
desecrate the Sabbath by making it a day of amusement and 
pleasure ; or should generally allow themselves to indulge in 
the intemperate use of intoxicating liquors ; or to practice poly- 
gamy ; or should they engage generally and openly in the for- 
eign slave trade ; or, in short, do, habitually, anything else mani- 
festly contrary to the gospel, and dishonorable to the Christian 
name, and suited to bring scandal on religion ; — would not such 
practices, any one of them, be generally considered sufficient 
cause for withholding fellowship from the doers of such things ? 
Otaer churches might deem it their duty to expostulate, but if that 
proved unavailing, they would feel constrained by the laws of 
Christ, and a regard to his honor, not to company^ as the apostle 
speaks, with such ; no not even to eat, at the sacramental table, 
with them. There are surely bounds beyond which Christian 
fellowship cannot, consistently with the gospel, be extended. 
This all must allow. And these bounds are, as I have stated, 
errors and practices notoriously contrary to the gospel, and 
suited to bring Christianity, in the eyes of the world, into dis- 
grace. Have we not proceeded over firm ground thus far ? 
I proceed to show, 

II. That slaveholding is manifestly contrary to the gospel; 
and, when practiced, vindicated, or tolerated by professed Chris- 
tians, most injurious to the honor and prosperity of the Christian 

I speak, as I said in the beginning, of ordinary slaveholding ; 
of such slaveholding as the law makers of the slave States have 
by their enactments, ordained and sanctioned. There is in fact 
no other in our country. Wherever slavery exists in the 
church, it is there not by ecclesiastical, but civil authority. 
The State creates and protects the institution ; while the church 
only adopts and uses it, and in that way sanctions it. 

Now it is well known that the laws regard slaves not as men, 
but things ; as mere goods and chattels, to all intents, construc- 
tions, and purposes whatever ; entirely in the hands and subject 

to the wills of the masters to whom they belong. The body, the 
mind, the time, the earnings of the slave, from the moment of his 
birth to that of his death, arc entirely subject to the dictation and 
disposal of the master. The slave has absolutely nothing which 
he can, by law, hold as his owai. Even his wife and children 
may, at any time, be taken from him, and sold, either privately 
or at public auction. The female slave has, in respect to chas- 
tity, no legal protection. Her master, however libidinous or 
unprincipled, may use or dispose of her as he pleases. The 
children she bears and fondly cherishes are in no higher sense 
hers, than her offspring would be were she not a human being 
Nor is it, in law, of any consequence who is their father. They 
must follow the condition of their mother. They belong to her 
master, who holds them as articles of property, in the same sense 
and way as he does the increase of his flocks and herds ; and he 
calculates to make gain, either by working or selling them, as 
may best suit his advantage. As it regards crimes and penal- 
ties, the laws are altogether more strict and sanguinary in refer- 
ence to the colored than they are towards the white population. 
Many of the same crimes which would subject a white man only 
to a brief imprisonment, doom the colored man to the punish- 
ment of death. And while the laws are thus unequally and un- 
justly severe, no slave, however veracious, is allowed to appear in 
any court of justice to testif}^ against a white man, however atro- 
cious may have been his conduct. This cruel system goes farther, 
and lays its deadly grasp on the very souls of its victims. It sub- 
jects all the religious privileges of the slave to the absolute will of 
the master, whether he be protestant, papist, or infidel. It does 
more ; it prohibits the master from teaching his slave to read, to 
read even the Word of God, and thus cuts off the unfortunate 
creature from one of the greatest privileges which God has ever 
bestowed on man. It aims to keep the mind in abject ignorance 
and degradation ; lest the enslaved should grow dissatisfied, and 
claim the inalienable rights of humanity. In several of the 
States not only slaves, but all colored people, however good may 
be their character, are prohibited, under heavy penalties, from 
the privilege of being taught to read and write. And to these 
laws professed Christians generally succumb, even while en- 
gaged in sending the gospel to remote heathen nations ! These 
. laws, severe and oppressive as they are, are thought, even by 
the church, to be required by the necessity of the case ; and we 
hear not of their making any applications to government for 
their repeal. Indeed, church members have all along, without 
doubt, constituted an influential part of the legislatures which 
have made and supported these laws. In the church, what is 

called marriage^ among slaves, is a mere matter of policy and 
convenience ; and is not understood to be sanctioned^ by any 
law, human or divine. The master may separate the wife from 
the husband, or the husband from the wife, and require them to 
form new connexions, at his pleasure. In the church, the pious 
slave who sits at the same table of the Lord with his master, is 
still held as the property of that master ; and liable to be sold 
by him, or to be seized for his debts, and to be disposed of at 
auction, like any other merchantable commodity. Humane 
masters may soften the hardships of slavery, and render the 
yoke less intolerable than it generally is ; but the nature of the 
institution, and its essential injustice, remain, even in their 
hands, the same — men are despoiled of their most sacred rights, 
both as men and as Christians, and still doomed to wear out 
their lives in cruel bondage ; and to leave their posterity to the 
same woful inheritance. And this not for any crimes alleged 
against them, any wrongs done to society by them, or anticipated 
from them, were they set free ; but merely because those who 
have power superior to theirs, have, with a view to their own in- 
terests, ordained that it should be so. And the church, by tak- 
ing slavery into her bosom, adopts and baptizes it, and unites 
with the State in giving it protection and support. 

Now, is it right— is it consistent with the spirit of the gospel, 
with that genuine benevolence which our Savior requires, and 
which constitutes the very essence of his religion, for his pro- 
fessed followers, for his churches, to pursue such a course as 
this, and to treat any portion of their fellow men in this manner f 
Christ has commanded, " Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thy- 
self." And he has shown that every human being towards whom 
we have opportunity to manifest this benevolence, is to be ac- 
counted by us as our neighbor. The law is univeisal, requiring 
us to love all, even as ourselves ; and to do good to all men as 
we have opportunity. No circumstances pertaining to country 
or language, or complexion, or condition in life, can absolve us 
from the duty of obedience to this law. Let our neighbor be 
poor and despised and down-trodden, and in the view of the 
world fit only for slavery, yet we are required to love him even 
as ourselves ; and to treat him with all the kindness which we 
could reasonably desire to be extended unto us, in the same 
circumstances. Were this law of Christ universally obeyed, 
slavery with all its miseries must immediately and everywhere 


Christ is, if possible, yet more explicit. " All things what- 
soever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to 
them ; for this is the law and the prophets." As it regards our 


intercourse with society, our treatment of our fellow men, this 
is the great fundamental law of his kingdom — a law of universal 
and perpetual obligation. Let this law be applied to the con- 
sciences of slaveholders. They argue that they have a right to 
their slaves as property, because they are authorized by the 
laws of their country, and by the asages of society, thus to hold 
them. They plead that slaveholding has been practiced by all 
nations, that it was common among the Hebrews, and seems 
to be countenanced by such passages in the New Testament as 
require servants to be obedient to their masters. They main- 
tain that under existing laws emancipation is extremely difli- 
cult, almost impossible, and that their slaves are in fact, better 
off in their present condition than they would be if liberated. 
These and such like arguments falling in with their love of power, 
wealth, and self-indulgence, may seem to them not only plausi- 
ble, but unanswerable. But none of these arguments will abide 
the searching test of this great law of Christ. Wo are not ig- 
norant that an individual now and then has had the boldness 
to assert, that in holding slaves he believed himself to be acting, 
not contrary to this law, but in obedience to it ! But, unless in 
some uncommon cases where individuals arc retaining for a time 
their legal right for the express purpose of protecting and ele- 
vating their slaves, how is this possible ? 

Look at the matter impartially. Suppose the case of the 
masters and of their slaves were in all respects commuted ; that 
their complexions were exchanged ; that those now the servants 
were made the masters ; and the present masters with their 
families were made the slaves ; that the same laws which now 
oppress and crush those in servitude were laid on the??} ; that 
they were not allowed to call their time, or earnings, their bodies, 
or their souls their own ; that their nev/ masters should hold 
them as mere animals which they had an absolute right to use 
or dispose of at their pleasure ; that they should advertise them 
for sale ; and to accommodate purchasers should separate the 
different members of the same family from each other to meet 
no more on earth ; should deprive them of all the advantages 
of education, of all the benefits of civil and religious libertv ; 
and doom them to hopeless degradation ; — how would the present 
masters, thus subjected to bondage, feel under such treatment } 
What would be their convictions in regard to the justice of it ? 
Would they be satisfied with being told that slavery has been 
common among other nations ; that it is authorized by the laws 
of our country ; that they were made for slaves, and better off 
in a state of servitude than they would be hi a state of freedom, 
being incapable of taking care of themselves } Would all or 


any of these argumeuts be considered anything better than cruel 
insult and mockery ? Would not their hearts swell with indi"-- 
nation, and all of them be ready to reiterate, with the deepest 
emotion, the declaration of our fathers, " We hold these truths 
to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, and endowed 
by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, among which 
are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness?" and would they 
not earnestly wish their oppressors to allow them the full en- 
joyment of all these rights and privileges ? And would not this 
wish bo not only natural, but per/ectli/ reasonable ? No one 
who makes the case his own will dispute it. But if the masters, 
being put in the place of the slaves, might reasonably desire to 
be emancipated, to be enfranchised, with all the privileges of 
freemen, then it is their manifest, their imperious duty to deal 
thus with those who are now subject to them, and by them de- 
prived of their rights ; for the immutable, the eternal rule of 
rectitude is, " All things whatsoever ye would that men should 
do to you, do ye even so to them." 

Our Savior not only gave this valuable summary of the com- 
mandments, consisting of the second table of the decalogue, but 
he confirmed those commands in detail, and made theui perma- 
nent laws of his kingdom. All these stand out in direct oppo- 
sition to slavcholding. " Thou shalt not covet anything that is 
thy neighbor's." But the slaveholder docs covet the wife and 
children, and earnings, and body and soul, of his slave — every- 
thing which is his. " Thou shalt not steal." The slaveholder 
not only covets everything which is his poor neighbor's, but 
without his consent takes possession, and appropriates all to 
himself ! If it is a crime to take from a man by stealth or rob- 
bery his horse, or coat, or purse, how much greater must be the 
crime to thus take the man's wife and children, and himself.^ 
" Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor." But 
to testify that colored men and women arc fit only for slavery, 
that it would not be for their benefit to raise them to a more 
elevated condition, that they have no right to complain of in- 
justice on account of being held and treated as articles of pro- 
perty, provided they are comfortably clothed and fed, is false 
testimony, and that of the most cruel nature. " Thou shalt not 
commit adultery." But the slaveholder does not expect or 
wish this command to be obeyed. If he obe3^s it himself, yet 
he gives his support to a system of laws which efiectually secures 
universal transgression and profligacy among the enslaved. 
Kveu the pious female is deprived of all legal protection or 
redress in case of insult or violence. That white men are ex- 
tensively involved in this guilt, the complexions and features of 


a vast portion of the slaves sufficiently indicate. " Honor thy 
father and thy mother." But how is it possible for the slave to 
do this, when he is not supposed to know who his father is, and 
^^"iS always been taught to look on his mother as a degraded and 
miserable being like himself .? What honor or obedience can 
be paid to parents in a state of slavery ? " Thou shalt not kill." 
But, alas ! who can tell what numbers of the enslaved perish, 
yearly, in consequence of their hard toil under the driver's lash ; 
the severe punishments inflicted on them ; the painful separa- 
tions which they experience, and the intolerable sufferings inci- 
dent to their lot ? -This great system of oppression is utterly 
inconsistent with the law of God, and must involve those who 
practice it in fearful guilt. 

Is not slaveholding contrary to the gospel } Does it not, 
when practiced by men professing to be the followers of the 
blessed Savior, bring disgrace on religion, and harden the hearts 
of men against its benign influences ? The arguments which 
men professing religion bring in defence of their practice of slave- 
holding are infinitely dishonorable to the gospel, and eminently 
suited to cause it to be blasphemed and despised. 

This may not be admitted by slaveholders. They are hard 
to be convinced ; and we can scarcely expect from them even a 
candid hearing. My main business at present is not with them ; 
but with that portion of the church which is not directly in- 
volved in this wickedness. What is the voice, the decision, of 
unprejudiced Christian people ? Many churches and other 
ecclesiastical bodies have deliberated on this subject, and spoken 
plainly in regard to it ; and what is the amount of their testi- 
mony ? If any attempt should be made to disparage the views 
of slavery which 1 have presented, as partial, sectai'ian, fanati- 
cal, or at best as those of an obscure individual, I will now 
show that they are not peculiar to me •, but strongly sustained 
by the declared convictions of numerous ministers and ecclesi- 
astical bodies in different parts of the country, and of different 
denominations, who are certainly as capable of knowing what 
is, and what is not, according to the gospel, as any other man 
in this or any other land. Let them speak for themselves, 


The .Convention of Congregational Ministers and 
Churches in the State of Vermont have, repeatedly, 
borne strong testimony against slaveholding. In 1846, they 
passed the following resolutions : 

*' Resolved, 1, That this Convention still believes and maintains 


that the great system of American slavery is, in ils fundamental prin- 
ciples, contrary to the spirit and the gospel of Christ, and utterly sin- 
ful before God ; that the laws which support it are unrighteous and 
cruelly oppressive; that the tendency of the system is, and must be, 
to degrade, demoralize, and destroy the souls of the enslaved, and to 
bring divine condemnation and wrath on thofe wlio thus enslave and 
wrong them ; to disturb continually the peace which should subsist 
between the different States of our Union, and thus put in fearful peril 
our national welfare ; to introduce and foster discord in our religious 
connexions ; and thus to grieve from us the Sjjirit of God, and to 
hinder deplorably the progress of his kingdom both in this and in 
other lands ; that these evils are not incidental, but inherent in the 
system, making it utterly incurable, and before both earth and heaven 
abominable: and for these reasons all men, especially all Christian 
men, ought to lift up a united voice of strong remonstrance against a 
system fraught with so much guilt and misery; and to do ^^ hatever 
they rightfully and judiciously can, to bring it to a speedy and final 

" Resolved, 2. That in case any of the members of our churches in- 
volve themselves, while holding connexion with us, in the guilt of up- 
holding the slave system, by trading in the bodies and souls of their 
fe!low-men, or extorting their involuntary and unrequited services, 
they ought to be considered and dealt with as guilty of conduct fla- 
grantly unchristian." 

Othor resolutions of the same spirit and general bearing were 
passed ; and the Convention close their testimony with the de- 
claration that the voice of remontrance which they had thus 
lifted up in the fear of God, was addressed not to their own 
churches merely, but to all the ecclesiastical bodies with which 
the Convention were holding correspondence ; especially to all 
slaveholding bodies ; that they may do what in them li:s for 
the speedy and entire removal of this tremendous evil. 

It was thought, and publicly represented, by individuals, that 
the passage of these resolutions was precipitate ; that if the Con- 
vention had taken time for refloction, they would have essenti- 
ally modified some of them ; but after a year's reflection, they 
re-aflSrmed them all, without the alteration of a word ; which suf- 
ficiently shows that these are their established sentiments re- 
specting slavery. 

The General Association of Massachusetts. — This body 
at their meeting, in 1846, passed the following affirmation and 
resolution : 

♦•'The General Association of Massachusetts, having often and 
earnestly expressed their abhorrence of slavery, grieving that the sys- 
tem still exists, and is sustained by some Christians and Ecclesiastical 
Bodies as authorized by the Word of God — do solemnly re-attirrn their 
faith, that the Word of God is utterly opposed to s'avery us it exists 


in these United States ; and that as far as the Word of God obtains 
the ascendency in the heart and conscience of Christians and of the 
church, such Christians must and will separate themselves from all 
responsible connexions with the system ; and in the spirit of fraternal 
fidelity, we would earnestly beseech all Christians connected with the 
system, in view of their profession, to be living examples of the gos- 
pel, and in the light of God's truth carefully to review their opinions 
and practice, and to do their utmost to free the Church of Christ from 
the pollution of this guilt. 

" Resolved, That this expression of opinion be inserted on the min- 
utes of the General Association, and that the Secretary be directed to 
transmit a copy of it to the several Ecclesiastical Bodies with which 
we are in correspondence." 

The General Conference of Maine. — This Body of the 
Congregational Churches in Maine, on receiving the ahove com- 
munication from their brethren in Massachusetts, at their meet- 
ing the same year, make this response : 

'* As we have heretofore expressed our solemn conviction that the 
system of slavery existing in the United States is a great sin against 
God and man, and a most threatening evil, for which our nature ought 
to humble itself — and that the North, as well as the South, is deeply 
implicated in the guilt of slavery, and that for its speedy and entire 
removal every Christian ought to pray, and use all suitable means 
within his reach — we now re-affirm our abhorrence of the system, as 
being fraught with immense evil both to the oppressor and ^q op- 

" Believing it to be entirely contrary to the Word of God, ' so far as 
that Word obtains an ascendency in the conscience and hearts of Chris- 
tians, they must and will separate themselves from all responsible con- 
nexion with the system.' We do affectionately and earnestly entreat 
all slaveholders who profess to be the disciples of Him who came to 
preach deliverance to the captives — 'in view of their profession, and 
in the light of God's Word, carefully and seriously to review their 
opinions and practice relating to this subject ; and to do their utmost 
to free the church from the pollution of this guilt.'" 

They, moreover, directed their Secretary to transmit a copy 
of their doings in the case to each of the Ecclesiastical Bodies 
with which they hold correspondence. The earnest and strong 
remonstrances of this body against slaveholding, in years past, 
is well known. 

The General Association of New Hampshire (1837) 

"We consider the principle of slavery, or that men may hold, re- 
gard, and treat their fellow-men as property, inconsistent with natural 
justice, utterly at variance with the spirit and the principles of the 
Bible, the fruitful source of wrong, suffering, and sin among men, of 
danger to our country, and a hindrance to the progress of the gospel." 


They recommend a free and candid discussion of tlie su'bject 
on all suitable occasions, the diflfusion of light, and the promo- 
tion of correct moral sentiments as necessary means for " the 
removal of this enormity from our land." And in 1840, they 
addressed an earnest remonstrance to the General Assembly of 
the Presbyterian Church, against the toleration of slaveholding 
in their churches, beseeching them to put this enormity away. 

The General Association of Connecticut (1837) de- 
clare — 

" That to buy and sell human beings, and to hold them and treat 
them as merchandise ; or to treat serv«ints, free or bond, in any man- 
ner inconsistent with the fact that they are intelligent and voluntary 
beings, made in the image of God, is a violation of the principles of 
the Word of God, and shoulj be treated by all the churches of our 
Lord Jesus Christ as an immorality inconsistent with a profession of 
the Christian religion." 

^^An immorality inconsistent with a profession of the Chris- 
tian religion.'''' Let this be remembered. 

That several, if not all, of the Methodist Conferences, in 
the free States, agree with the venerated Wesley in pronouncing 
slaveholding to be " the sum of all villanies," and have for 
years been striving to deliver themselves from all criminal con- 
nexion with it, will appear from a due examination of their 
official acts. 

One Hundred and Seventy Unitarian Ministers have 
uttered their solemn protest against American slaveholding, 

" Because it is a violation of the law of Right, being the sum of all 
unrighteousness v,-hich man can do to man ; depriving him not only 
of his possessions, but of himself. And as in the possession of one's 
self are included all'other rights, he who makes a man a slave, com- 
mits the greatest possible robbery, and the greatest possible wrong." 

" Because it violates the law of Love, which says, ' Whatsoever ye 
would that men should do unto you, do ye even so unto them.'" 

" Because it degrades man, the image of God, into a thing ; changes 
persons into property; and, by violating the dignity of the human 
soul, is constant sacrilege against that soul which the Scriptures de- 
clare tc! be the temple of the Holy Ghost." 

They enumerate many of the evils in which the slave system 
involves not only the enslaved, but their masters ; and protest 
against it on account of tliem all. In reply to the apology that 
slaves arc often ivell treated, they justly say, " It is not a ques- 
tion of treatment but of right ; and the greatest kindness would 


be no coliipensation for the rights winch are withheld." The 
attempt to justify slaveliolding on the ground of Scriptural au- 
thority, they decidedly repudiate, as not only entirely unfound- 
ed, but directly suited to cause the Holy Scriptures to be dis- 
credited and blasphemed. 

The Baptist Ministers of Boston, in a declaration drawn 
up for general circulation in their denomination (1847), after 
setting forth some of the well known evils involved in slavery, 
say : 

" Witli such a system we can have no sympathy. After a careful 
observation of its character and effects, and making every deduction 
which the largest charity can require, we are constrained to regard it 
as an outrage upon the rights and happiness of our fellow-men for 
which there is no justifrcation or apology. We can, therefore, sus- 
tain no relation, and p-erfomi no act, that will countenance the sys- 
tem, or imjily inditrerence to its muUipHed enormities. Against it, as 
a mass of complicated and flagrant wrong, we must record and pro- 
claim our solemn ju'otest. And especially must we, as ministers of the 
Son of God, protest against those perversions of the Sacred Oracles by 
which it is attempted to make their Divine Author the patron and pro- 
tector of a system which is so entirely repugnant to their principles 
and spirit." 

Three Hundred and Ninety-Six Ministers of the 
Freew^ill Baptist Connexion (1847) solemnly declare slave- 
holding to bo " a direct violation of the Law of Benevolence, 
and the obligations enforcad by our Religion ;" a system giving 
encouragement to " war, licentiousness, gambling. Sabbath- 
breaking, and almost every sin with which our land is cursed" 
— " a fearful outrage on humanity" — ^' a foul system, with 
which no holy being in the Universe can have any sympathy" — 
and publicly withdrew themselves from all voluntary connexion 
with " this enormous evil." " We, therefore, by refusing to sup- 
port slavery, its principles or its advocates, and by withholding 
Christian and Church fellowship from all guilty of the sin of 
slavery ; and by remembering those in bonds as bound with 
them, would wish to wash our hands from the guilt of this ini- 

The American Board of Commissioners for Foreign 
Missions, at their general meeting in 1845, unanimously con- 
curred in bearing this testimony against slavery : 

*' Viewed in all its bearings, it is a tremendous evil. Its destructive 
influence is seen on the morals of the master and slave. It sweeps 
away those barriers which every civilized community has erected to 
protect the purity and chastity of the family relations. We also see 
its baneful effects on the rising generation. A great portion of the red 


people who own slaves" (for of ihem, in the language of one of their 
missionaries, they are speaking), " neglect entirely to train their chil- 
dren to habits of industrj^ enterprise, and economy, so necessary in 
forming the character of the parent and citizen. Slavery, so far as it 
extends,-f\vill ever present formidable obstacles to the right training of 
the rising geneiation." 

Of course its direct and mighty influence is to resist the com- 
mands of God which require parents to train their children for 
his service ; and to render all efforts for their salvation unavail- 
ing. Why should such a deadly curse be taken into the bosom 
of the church ? — of the missionary churches among the Indians ? 

The truth of these heavy charges against slaveholding, cannot 
be honestly denied even by those Ecclesiastical bodies which 
tolerate the practice among them. Many proofs might be ad- 
duced from their own public declarations, in years past. It may 
be sufficient, at present, to refer to the testimony of The Gene- 
ral Assembly of the Presbyterian Board, in 1818. They 
plainly acknowledge that — 

" The voluntary enslaving of men is a gross violation of the most 
precious and sacred rigiits of human nature ; utterly inconsistent with 
the law of God, which requires every man to love his neighbor as 
himself; and totally irreconcilable with the spirit and principles of the 
gospel of Christ, which requires that ' all things whatsoever ye would 
thafmen should do to you, do ye even so to them ;' that it exhibits 
rational, immortal, and accountable creatures in such circumstances 
as scarcely to leave them the power of moral action; — that it 
makes men dependent on the will of others whether they shall receive 
leligious instruction; know and worship the true God; maintain their 
chastity and purity ; or perform the duties and cherish the endear- 
ments of husbands and wives, parents and children." " This," they 
say, " is not a,n imaginary view, but is inherent in the very nature of 
slavery." " The evils to which the slave is always exposed, often 
take place in fact, and in the worst form; and though we rejoice to 
say that many masters are kind and humane ; yet the slave is deprived 
of his natural rights; degraded as a human being; and exposed to 
the danger of passing into the hands of a master who man inflict upon 
him all the hardships and injuries wliich inhumanity and avarice may 

Since that time the General Assembly has been divided into 
two— both of which, in 1846, bore similar testimony against this 
enormous iniquity. The Old School General Assembly say, 
definitely, that nothing which has been done by that body, of 
late years, is to be construed as inconsistent with the action of 
the General Assembly in 1818, and in years preceding. It is 
then — ■ 

" A gross violation of the most precious and sacred rights of human 
nature — utterlv inconsistent with the law of God." 


The Synod of Kentucky, in tlieir pastoral Address in 
1836, speaking of slaveholding as it exists and is practiced among 
themselves, affirm that — 

'* It dooms thousands of human beings to hopeless ignorance." " It 
deprives its subjects in a great measure of the privileges of the gos- 
pel." " This system licenses and produces great cruelty." " Brutal 
stripes and all the varied kinds of personal indignities are not the only 
species of cruelty which slavery licenses. The law does not recognise 
the family relations of a slave, and extends to him no protection in the 
enjoyment of domestic endearments. The members of a slave family 
may be forcibly separated, so that they shall never more meet until the 
final judgment. And rapacity often induces masters to practice what 
the law allows. Brothers and sisters, parents and children, husbands 
and wives, are torn asunder, and permitted to see each other no more. 
These ads are daily occurring in the midst of us. The shrieks and the 
agony often witnessed on such occasions proclaim, with a trumpet 
tongue, the iniquity and cruelty of our system. The cry of these suf- 
ferers goes up into the ears of the Lord of Sabbaoth. There is not a 
neighborhood where these scenes are not displayed. There is not a 
village or road that does not behold the sad procession of manacled 
outcasts, whose chains and mournful countenances tell that they are 
exiled by force from all that their hearts held most dear. Our churchy 
years ago, raised its voice of solemn warning against this flagrant vio- 
lation of every principle of mercy, justice, and humanity. Yet we 
blush to announce to you that this warning has been often disregarded, 
even by those wJio hold to our communion. Cases have occurred in o-ur 
own denomination where professors of the religion of mercy have torn 
the mother from her children, and sent her into a merciless and rjeturn- 
less exile. Yet acts of discipline have rarely followed suck conduct." 

Again they say : 

*' It produces general licentiousness among the slaves.^' " Their li- 
centiousness is the necessary result of our system." 

Nor do they shrink from adding this most melancholy con- 
fession : 

'■' Our familiarity ivith this consequence of slavery prevents us from 
regarding it with that horror which it would, under other circumstances, 

They acknowledge that they shall never be able to keep them- 
selves entirely pure even from the grossest pollutions of slavery 
wntil they are willing to pledge themselves to the destruction of 
the whole system. 

Other testimony of like import, and to almost any extent, 
might be adduced — the testimony, not of a few individuals 
charged with fanaticism, but of great and highly respectable 
Ecclesiastical Bodies, not only in the free States, but in the 
slave States ; with the living and hideous reality continually 


before tli':^m ; even in their own habitations, and in their houses 
of religious worship ; tolerated and cherished by multitudes of 
their own church members. 

Now, if we know what the Christian religion is, if we have 
any knowledge of the true meaning of the divine law, any right 
impressions respecting the true spirit and design of the gospel, 
any just idea of right and of wrong ; we are as sure as we are of 
our existence, that the great system of American slaveholding, 
as defined by the laws which have created and are upholding it, 
and as generally practiced, in the church as well as out of it, is 
directly contrary to this religion ; to the law of God ; to the 
gospel of Christ ; to all moral rectitude ; and ought to be held 
in universal abhorrence as one of the most dreadful systems of 
oppression and iniquity which can be found on earth. 

If, then, opinions or practices flagrantly contrary to the gos- 
pel, constitute valid grounds for withdrawing Christian fellow- 
ship from ministers and churches who maintain these opinions, 
or allow themselves in those practices ; and if, as I have shown, 
slaveholding is manifestly contrary to the gospel, and when prac- 
ticed, or vindicated, or countenanced, by professed Christians, 
most injurious to the honor and prosperity of the Christian re- 
ligion ; what good cause can be assigned vrhy we should not 
wholly withdraw fellowship from those ministers and churches, 
or larger ecclesiastical bodies, who practice, justify, or tolerate, 
this " flagj-ant immorality" — '' this great sin against both God 
and man V I speak not of slaveholding in isolated instances 
of voluntary consent on the part of the slave, and of seemingly 
good intention on the part of the master, but of slaveholding as 
generally practiced in the church. Are there any sufficient 
reasons why those who practice, or tolerate it, should not be 
treated as the gospel requires in other cases of dangerous heresy 
or flagrant immorality ? Does this sin constitute any exception 
to the general rule } I firmly believe it does not ; and proceed 
to show — 

III. That we are under the same obligations to withdraw from 
professed Christians, and especially ecclesiastical bodies who 
practice or tolerate slaveholding, as we are to withdraw from 
those who maintain any other dangerous heresy, or who practice 
any other flagrant immorality. 

This must be the fact, unless some valid reasons, or at least 
reason, can be adduced to the contrary. If any such reasons 
exist, they may, doubtless, be found in some of the various 
apologies and arguments which have been addressed to the pub- 
lic within a few years past by the advocates of the system, and 


others who, while they condemn it, are in favor of tolerating it 
in the church. But these reasons, though they may satisfy 
those who offer tliem, must, one would think, appear wholly un- 
satisfactory to every unprejudiced mind. 


Slavcholding has been often spoken of as a peculiar institution^ 
which, though in itself wrong, should be treated with special 
favor. A sort of consecrated system of iniquity which must not 
be so viewed and condemned as to criminate, seriously, the indi- 
viduals constituting the mass who uphold and practice it. It is, 
indeed, a peculiar institution — peculiar for its outrageous injus- 
tice, its cruel oppression, its flagrant violation of all human rights, 
and utter disregard of the will of God as expressed both in his law 
and gospel. It is an extensive, strongly-established system of 
iniquity, peculiar for its enormity. But why should it be treat- 
ed with favor on account of any such notoiious peculiarit}'- } 
Such claims show the shocking arrogancy of this giant iniquity; 
and over the minds of its subjects may have power, but can 
never command the respect of those who think for themselves 
and are beyond the reach of its deadly influence. Its peculiar 
atrocity constitutes suihcient ground for its being viewed with 
peculiar abhorrence, and opposed with special determination and 


Slavcholding, it is said, though wrong in its beginning, yet, 
having been practiced for more than two hundred years, and be- 
come intimately incorporated with the entire frame work of 
Southern society and business, is no longer to be regarded as a 
moral evil ; it has, in the course of time, so entirely changed 
its character that the i3resent race of slaveholders cannot, with 
any justice, be held responsible for the existence of the institu- 
tion ; or for transmitting it, unimpaired, to their posterity. If 
this is true, then surely we ought not to withdraw fellowship 
from our Southern brethren on account of their supporting the 
system. But if a thing, or practice, is wrong in its beginning, 
how can ages or the progress of time make it right } Robbery, 
piracy, and war arc the same now, as in earlier ages of the world. 
Time has had no influence to sanctify them. They are as in- 
jurious to men, as odious in the view of God, as heavily con- 
demned of him, as they ever were. The combined opposition 
of the wicked against the divine government is of long standing ; 
thousands of years ago they began to say, "What is the Al- 


miglity that we should serve hiin ?" and have continuod in their 
rebellion until the present day. But is this opposition any 
more justifiable now than it was in its beginning ? has its nature 
been changed ? has it become venerable and lawful, because it 
has been maintained so many ages and such multitudes have 
been and are engaged in it ? Not at all. Those now found in 
rebellion against God are even more guilty and hell-deserv- 
ing than their predecessors, as they sin against greater light, 
and more openly in view of the consequences. 

A comparison has been attempted between the justice of 
holding the present race of slaves in bondage, and that of re- 
taining lands or territories whicli were originally obtained un- 
justly, by fraud or conquest. Look for a moment at this matter. 
To acquire possessions by acts of injustice always was, and must 
be, wrong ; and to retain these possessions while the original 
owners, or their legal heirs, have a better right to them, must 
be equally wrong. Perseverance in a wrong course cannot con- 
vert that course into a right one. So long as reparation is pos- 
sible, it ought to be made. But supposing all the original 
owners of lands, or other property, unjustly taken, and all their 
known heirs, have ceased from the earth ; that restitution cannot 
be made, because there is no one to receive it ; then there is no 
wrong in retaining and rightly using that which was at first un- 
justly acquired. The guilt lies on them who did the wrong, or 
who refused to redress it while possible ; and not on those who 
have themselves done no injustice, and have no power to make 
amends for the injustice done by their deceased predecessors. 

But how does this furnish any apology for the present genera- 
tion of slaveholders ? Their ancestors did wrong in purchasing 
the first slaves, and thus establishing the accursed institution. 
The children of those first slaveholders did wrong in adopting 
their views and pursuing their oppressive course. And the pre- 
sent race are not less guilty, inasmuch as they willingly have 
taken possession of the inheritance which was by their prede- 
cessors unjustly obtained for them, and refuse to relinquish the 
property in favor of the true owners — refuse to undo the heavy 
burdens, and to let the oppressed go free. 

The institution of slavery has not merely been perpetuated^ 
but has been, by successive acts of injustice and oppression con- 
tinually renewed. Death, long since, released those who were 
originally enslaved. Their children were enslaved by new acts 
of fraud and violence. The present race of slaveholders have 
obtained their human chattels by their own acts. Each of their 
slaves has an inalienable right to use his own bodily and mental 
faculties for his own benefit. He has a right to himself. And 


to withhold from him the enjoyment of that right is " the great- 
est possible wrong." The time never comes when justice might 
not, and ought not, to be done to the enslaved ; — when the 
rights which have been wrenched from them ought not to be re- 
stored. While they live, the persons are living, and at hand, 
to whom reparation ought to be made. Those who have the 
power to do this, and refuse, cruelly and continually wrong them. 
The present race of slaveholders cannot free themselves from re- 
sponsibility by criminating their fathers. Both are deeply guilty 
before God. If they do not so view the matter, it is, no doubt, 
because avarice and familiarity with this iniquity have blinded 
their eyes. 


It has been argued that as slavery was established and is up- 
held by civil authority, the church is not responsible for it ; and 
church members are not to be censured for doing what the laws 
of the land have authorized. But, have not church members 
taken an efficient part, with the men of the world, in making and 
upholding these unrighteous laws .? And if so, with what pre- 
tence of justice can they avail themselves of these same unright- 
eous laws as their justification in holding their fellow-men in 
bondage } Again, can any human law abrogate the divine law } 
any permission, or even requisition, of human authority make 
it right to do anything which God forbids; or which is plainly 
contrary to the principles of the gospel } Because a man has a 
license from civil authority to keep a brothel", or gambling house, 
or drunkery, does that make it right for him to do so ? Has the 
church no authority to call him to account } Because war has, 
without sufficient cause, been proclaimed against a neighboring 
people, does that make it right for individuals to volunteer their 
services, and go forth to the work of human butchery .? Do in- 
dividuals in such cases merge their responsibility in that of the 
government.^ By no means. Every one is accountable for his 
own acts. We know nothing of sin belonging to organized 
bodies for which the individuals constituting those bodies are 
not personally responsible. Every one who consents to that sin 
is a partaker of it. When the king of Babylon published a 
solemn decree that whosoever would not worship the image he 
had set up, Shadrach and his companions did not believe that 
this decree could make it right for them to worship that image. 
Sooner than obey, they would be cast into the furnace of jSre. 
Daniel, too, would rather be thrown to the lions than cease from 
praying to his God, though required by sovereign authority to do 
so The ancient martyrs all supposed they ought to refuse to 


obey civil authority whenever it arrayed itself against the au- 
thority of God. The church, instead of falling in with the in- 
justice and the abominations of slavery, merely because sanc- 
tioned by human laws, ought to use their utmost endeavors to 
have those laws repealed ; — and, while in force, their language 
should bo. Whether it be right to obey man rather than God, 
judge ye. 


It is strongly maintained that the apostles tolerated slave 
holding ; that they received slaveholders into the church ; and 
that it is right for us to follow their example in regard to the 
matter. To this I reply, 

1. That as the term doulos is manifestly used in the original 
New Testament in all the latitude of meaning which we give to 
our term servant, we cannot determine from the corresponding 
term kurioSj or master, that those masters who were received 
into the church were all, or any of- them, slaveholders^ in the 
ordinary sense. Our Savior himself is commonly distinguished 
by this epithet ; in his case usually rendered Lord. The term 
de-potes., less frequently used, although translated master, is also 
r';^pli3d to the Savior, and by no means commonly denotes 
a^ slaveholder. These mere terms afford no certain proof 
whether slaveholding did or did not, exist in the churches ga- 
thered by the apostles ; and it concerns those who would justify its 
admission and toleration now, by reference to their example, to 
look well to their premises ; and to establish, firmly, their sup- 
posed fact, by other evidences than the mere use of general 
terms, before they hasten to a conclusion, so deeply interesting 
not only to slaveholders and slaves, but to the church of Christ 
in all ages. The burden of proof is fairly on those who main- 
tain that the fact was as they represent. 

2. Practices may, in certain circumstances, be suffered even 
by good and inspired men, which in different circumstances, 
would justly be deemed -intolerable. Abundant proof might 
easily be produced. See the first family which ever existed on 
earth ; own brothers and sisters were united in marriage and 
became the heads of new families ; but when the necessity had 
passed away, the practice was, by the supreme Lawgiver strictly 
prohibited, and made infamous. Witness again the patriarchal 
practice of polygamy and concubinage, and of divorce for almost 
every cause, suffered by the law of Moses on account of the 
hardness of the people's hearts, but wholly discountenanced and 
condemned by Christ. Witness, too, what the apostle says of 
God's winking at, or overlooking the sins of past ages on account 


of the great ignorance of the people, hut now commanding all 
men everywhere to repent. Transgressions of the divme law are 
more or less criminal in proportion to the degree of light against 
which they are committed. 

If, then, it could be shown, beyond doubt, that the apostles, 
under the heathen and tyrannical government of Rome, where 
human rights were generally but very imperfectly understood, 
and the practice of selling into slavery the captives taken in war 
was almost universal, did receive some converts, while holding 
such slaves, into the church, it would only prove that it would 
nOw be right to do so in precisely similar circumstances ; the 
master's amount of knowledge, the nature of the government 
under which he lives, his disposition to do right so far as he 
knows what is right, and the various difficulties in his way, all 
being essentially the same. But the circumstances of professed 
Christians in this country, under a government formed and ad- 
ministered by the people, after so much has been said and pub- 
lished against oppression, and in defence of human rights, are 
in many respects, very different from the circumstances of any 
brethren under the iron government of Rome, in the days of 
the apostles. To uphold and practice slavery now, is, beyond 
doubt, far more criminal than it then was. Even in our own 
day, various wrong practices have become more flagrantly wrong, 
and inexcusable. What would be thought of professed Christ- 
ians engaging now in the foreign slave trade, as they once did ? 
Or of their drinking intoxicating liquors, or retailing them for 
others to drink, as they were accustomed to do at no remote 
period ? These practices, though but a few years since tolerat- 
ed by the churches, are now strongly and justly condemned. 
If then, it could be shown, more clearly than it has been, that 
the apostles were so forbearing in their treatment of slavehold- 
ers, as to admit them to the church on a profession of the 
Christian faith, while yet holding their slaves in bondage — hold- 
ing them as articles of property, it will by no means follow that 
the same thing may justly be done now, either by ministers or 
churches, in exceedingly different circumstances. To argue 
from what they did, or are supposed to have done, in certain 
peculiar circumstances, must surely be very loose and dangerous 
reasoning. But I proceed to prove 

3. That if the apostles received converted, slaveholders into 
the church, yet they did it under such restrictions and obliga- 
tions, as must, if duly regarded, have entirely changed the con- 
dition of their slaves, and raised them at once from the state of 
merchantable commodities to the enjoyment of the rights of ra- 
tional and accountable persons. 

That there were persons called ?nasterSy in the church, is uni- 
versally admitted. Various explicit instructions are given to 
such respecting their duty to their servants. These servants 
might have been of different orders and conditions. That they 
were all slaves no man can prove. On the contrary, that none 
of them were slaves, up to the time of the conversion of their 
masters, and at least nominally so at the time when those mas- 
ters were received into the church, I shall not undertake to 
make out. In view of the almost universal prevalence of slavery 
at that time, I see no reason to doubt that more or less of these 
believing masters had been slaveholders, in the ordinary sense. 
Be this as it may, it is certain that the instructions which the 
apostles gave to masters, regarding their duty to their servants, 
are without partiality, and enjoin tiat they should treat servants 
of every condition, in the same benevolent and equitable manner. 
None of them are allowed to treat any class of their servants as 
things J as mere animals, to be used or disposed of for the benefit 
of their owners, having no sacred rights of their own ; but all 
are required to treat their servants as members of the same great 
family with themselves ; as rational and immortal beings who are 
entitled to the same benevolence and justice with the rest of their 
fellow men. This will presently be shown. Masters who came 
into the church, by so doing, solemnly bound themselves to obey 
the gospel, to obey the commands and instructions of the apos- 
tles in all things ; and so far as slaveholders uniting with the 
church, if any such there were, did so, their slaveholding was 
virtually, and in fact, abolished. Under the power of the gospel, 
their views, their feelings, and conduct, in regard to their slaves, 
were entirely changed-; and the injustice of holding human 
beings as chattels, in which the very essence of slavery consists, 
ceased. If any masters who were received with this explicit 
understanding, failed thus to treat their servants, they, of course 
walked disorderly ; they were covenant-breakers, and liable, after 
due admonition, to be excluded from the church. In this way 
the work of abolishing this cruel and iniquitous system, so far as 
the church was concerned, was effectually, and at the same time 
without public disturbance, carried forward. 

That this view of the matter is essentially correct seems manifest 
from such considerations, and scriptural passages, as these. The 
divine law, contained in the decalogue, and as expounded and 
summed up by our Savior, the apostles strongly inculcated as a 
law of universal and everlasting obligation. But this law, as has 
been already shown, is directly and utterly opposed to the hold- 
ing and treating of our fellow men as slaves. On this point I 
need not now insist, 


Again, if the apostles did not come directly out against slaye- 
holding as an organized system, condemn it by name, and seek 
its destruction botli soul and body at once, by some violent 
movement ; yet tliey did what in their circumstances was not 
less eflfectual, by expressly condemning and seeking to destroy 
all its constituent parts, in detail. Slavery was an overgrown 
monster of fearful power, glutting itself on human victims ; and 
the apostles proceeded as skilful assailants by wounding it in 
any and in every part as they could find opportunity ; chopping 
off one extremity after another, one hydra head after another ; 
and finally laying open the huge carcass, and destroying its ugly 
heart. Let us look into their epistles and see for ourselves. 

" Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, hatred, 
variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, 
murders, and such like," are declared to be such sins as will 
exclude those who do them, from the kingdom of God. Gal. v. 
19 — 22. " Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor revilers, nor extor- 
tioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God." 1 Cor. vi. 10. Again, 
" Let no man go beyond and defraud [or oppress], his brother 
in any matter ; because that the Lord is the avenger of all such." 
Tliess. iv. 6. Masters are charged to forbear threatening ; and 
to remember that they have a master in Heaven with whom there 
is no respect of persons. Eph. vi. 6. They are solemnly fore- 
warned that God will hold them responsible for every act of in- 
justice. " Behold the hire of tj^e laborers who have reaped down 
your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth ; and the 
cries of them which have reaped have entered into the ears of the 
Lordof Sabbaoth." James v. 4. This is addressed not to fraudu- 
lent masters exclusively, but to all who refused to recompense 
their laborers equitably. In another epistle. Col. iv. 1, we 
have this express command, " Masters give unto your servants 
that which is just and equal ; knowing that ye have also a Mas- 
ter in heaven." 

Now we know that most or all of the vices and crimes here 
forbidden are inherent in the slave system, or as naturally pro- 
duced by it as any eficcts are by their appropriate causes. How 
is it possible to uphold the slave system, either as it then was, or 
now is, without willingly and purposely tolerating and giving 
encouragement to a universal and shameful violation of the seventh 
commandment, among those who are thus held in bondage .'' 
Their masters, in most cases, do not expect or wish them to re- 
gard it. Let this one commandment be strictly obeyed by all in 
bondage, and slavery as a system, must cease. Again, where 
there is no covetousness, no extortion, no fraud, no theft, no 
withholding from servants a fair compensation for their services, 


no threatening, and of course no stripes to secure obedience, how 
is it possible for slavery, in the ordinary acceptation of the terra, 
to exist ? As well might there be matter, after all its essential 
properties have been obstructed. Especially, if masters render 
to their servants that which ia just and equaly how is it possible 
for them at the same time to withhold from them the natural 
rights which all men have to their own bodies and minds ? to their 
own time and earnings ? and to their own children and wedded 
companions ? How can they render to them that which is just 
and equal, and at the same time despoil them of their liberty ; 
and without any just cause hold them in a state of abject slavery, 
as mere articles of property when they have committed no crime 
to merit any such doom ? Let these commands be obeyed by 
all slaveholders in the church and the evil will be removed from 
it at once. Obedience to these and such like commands is 
clearly and absolutely incompatible with slaveholding. 

Let those who profess to hold their slaves by apostolical au- 
thority either obey the apostles' commands, regarding the duty 
of masters to their servants, or relinquish all pretensions to any 
such right to hold them. It is surely no more than right that 
those who profess to be authorized by the New Testament should 
obey all its precepts. Let them do so, and the death blow is 
given to their slaveholding, at once. The fact is, the apostles 
nowhere give the least countenance to holding and treating 
human beings as mere articles of property. 

And it is by the spirit and commands of the New Testament 
directly applied to the evils involved in slaveholding, and not 
through some indefinite and mysterious influence of the gospel, 
as generally preached, that this odious system of oppression is to 
be abolished among professed Christians. The gospel may be 
preached as it generally is, even to the end of time, without 
removing, or materially mitigating the evils of slavery. But its 
express commands, forbidding every act of injustice, and strictly 
requiring masters to do that which is just and equal — to do for 
their servants just what they could reasonably wish to be done 
for themselves and their children if placed in the same circum- 
stances, directly applied to the consciences of slaveholders, and 
solemnly enforced by the authority of God, will be found to be 
of mighty efficiency. It was in this pointed and direct way that 
Christ preached to the scribes and pharisees, the publicans, the 
soldiers, and other classes of transgressors. Under such a faith- 
ful exhibition of divine truth, duly regarded, slavery can no more 
exist than war can exist where there is no hatred, no strife, no 
variance, no acts of violence, no wounds, no shedding of blood, 
or attempts to destroy. Masters who obeyed the instructions 


of the apostles, as all who were received into the church cove- 
nanted to do, of course ceased, in fact, and in the ordinary sense 
of the term, to be slaveholders. And thus, we see that slave- 
holding was not tolerated by the apostles in the churches which 
they gathered. 

In the case of Philemon and Onesimus we have a beautiful 
illustration of Paul's views in regard to this matter. During 
the imprisonment of Paul at Rome, Onesimus, formerly a servant 
or slave, of Philemon, a Christian man at Colosse, having escaped 
from his master, came to the apostle ; and through his faithful 
instructions was converted, and became strongly attached to him. 
Whether Philemon was a Christian man at the time Onesimus 
left him does not appear. But both, now having become deci- 
dedly pious, and an intimate friendship subsisting between them 
both and the apostle, he was desirous that they might be recon- 
ciled to each other and rejoice together in the faith and fellow- 
ship of the gospel. He, accordingly, seems to have advised 
Onesimus to return ; and writes a friendly letter for him to de- 
liver to his former master. Onesimus returns willingly ; no 
compulsion being used. But did Paul expect that he was going 
back into a state of slavery — to be held and treated as a brute 
animal — to be, perhaps, seized and punished as an example of 
warning to others ? Did he expect that by sending him back, 
he and his posterity, if he should have any, would be doomed to 
hopeless bondage ? By no means. He speaks of this Onesimus 
as his own son ; and beseeches Philemon to receive him as such, 
to receive him as he would Paul himself, if he should come to 
him ; to receive him not as a servant, or slave ; mind that, not 
as a servant ; but more than a servant — even as a brother^ be- 
loved both in the flesh and in the Lord. If Onesimus owed 
Philemon anything, the apostle tells him to set that to his ac- 
count ; but intimates a strong belief that no claim of that sort 
would be preferred. And he expresses the fullest confidence 
that Philemon would readily do all he had requested, and more. 
And there is every reason to believe that his wishes and expecta- 
tions were fully realized ; that the former master and servant met 
together in the faith and fellowship of the gospel, as brethren in 
the Lord, mentally delighting to promote each other's happi- 
ness. What good man, what good abolitionist, now, would not 
rejoice to effect similar reconciliations, and to witness again such 
manifestations of the power of true religion ? It is most aston- 
ishing that this rich display of Christian courtesy, benevolence 
and justice, should have ever been thought of by slaveholders as 
giving the least countenance to their system. Let their fugitives 
firmly believe that they will be received and treated as Onesimus 


was, not as slaves, but as brethren beloved ; with all the 
cordiality which a truly Christian man would show towards the 
chief of the apostles ; and there will be no need of the hun- 
ters with their dogs and deadly weapons, to seize them and force 
them back. As for Onesimus, the report is, that, with the 
approbation of Philemon he returned again to the apostle, and 
remained with him as one of his chief friends and helpers, during 
the remainder of his imprisonment. 

The more I study the scriptures of the New Testament, and 
the epistles of Paul and the other apostles, the more thoroughly 
am I satisfied that they do not give the least countenance to 
slaveholdiug — that the apostles never received men into the 
church with permission to persist in this practice ; and that, 
while they troubled not themselves about the mere names^ masters 
and servants, they allowed no man to hold or treat his fellow 
man in any way inconsistent with perfect benevolence and justice, 
and the full enjoyment of all his natural rights as a man, and a 
servant of God. But to do this while subjecting our fellow men 
to involuntary bondage, while holding and treating them as mere 
articles of property, is clearly impossible. Slaveholdiug and the 
gospel are, and must for ever be, diametrically opposed to each 


It has been strongly maintained that if we make slaveholdiug 
a bar to communion at the table of the Lord, we set up a stand- 
ard for the trial of Christian character which the gospel has never 
authorized ; that satisfactory evidence of piety, and that alone, 
is to be required of those who desire admission into the church. 

In regard to this sentiment I reply, 

1. It is freely admitted, that, without satisfactory evidence of 
true piety no one can with any propriety be received as a member 
of any of our evangelical churches. The apostles strictly re- 
quired faith in Christ, repentance, and fruits meet for repentance, 
in those whom they received, and organized into churches. And, 
as a general rule, all who apply for admittance, and give satis- 
factory evidence of having been thus renewed in heart, ought to 
be received as church members without objection. But, 

2. There may be sufficient reasons why some who give more 
or less evidence of piety should not be received immediately. 
In view of the well known deceitfuluess of the human heart, and 
of the danger of giving some encouragement to a false hope, it 
has long been the practice of many ministers and churches to 
advise those who really appear to be new converts, to wait awhile, 


before they unite with the church, in order to acquire and afford 
still more satisfactory evidence of piety. This course has been 
found to be far more judicious and safe, and honorable to religion, 
than any more hasty proceeding. But individuals 'entertaining 
a hope that they have been converted do not^ always, appear 
well. We see in their case, things which lead us to doubt in 
the genuineness of their piety. Suppose an individual applying 
for admission to the church, rejects, or is in doubt respecting 
some of the doctrines which we deem of vital importance to the 
Christian system ; we advise him to wait until he has been bettsr 
instructed ; though we may not be without hope of his piety. 
If one who has long given satisfactory evidence of personal re- 
ligion has at length, like David and Peter, fallen into some de- 
plorable sin, we certainly ought not to receive him into the 
church, or express our confidence in him as a Christian brother, 
until he gives renewed and good evidence of sincere repentance 
and reformation. Or suppose a man in heathen lands manifests 
great interest in religious instruction, and seems to leave the 
truth so far as he understands it ; and professes to have faith in 
Christ ; but holds to caste and polygamy ; and does not see in 
all cases the evil of idolatry ; surely he ought not, while enter- 
taining these views, to be received into the church of Christ. 
The missionary may hope that there is a good work begun in him ; 
but he will also have his fears ; and must be satisfied that to 
admit even a Christian man in that state of mind, would bring 
dishonor on religion, and probably be injurious to the man him- 
self. One must be not only pious at heart, but his faith and 
conduct must so far agree therewith, that he may honor his pro- 
fession and not be a stumbling block in the way of others. 

3. There are some practices so flagrantly wrong that we ought 
not to have any confidence in the professed piety of those who 
allow themselves in them. We cannot reach their hearts so as 
to know with absolute certainty that there is not some good thing 
there, some germ of holiness too deeply buried to appear ; but 
we can have no satisfactory evidence that such is the fact. " By 
their fruits," said Christ, " shall ye know them." Suppose a 
man allows himself to live in the habitual practice of any of those 
immoralities for which, as the apostle declares, the wrath of God 
comes on the children of disobedience ; suppose he allows him- 
self to use profane language, to commit adultery, to practice 
fi-aud, to steal, to use intoxicating liquors to excess, to oppress 
and wrong his fellow men in any way ; we justly consider these 
actions such evidences of his destitution of the Spirit of Christ 
and favor of God, that we can have no confidence in his pro- 
fession of piety. Let the searcher of all hearts be his judge ; 


but surely no one Las any right to claim to be considered or 
treated as a Christian while pursuing any of these, or such like, 
evil practices. Until he gives evidence of sincere repentance, 
by bringing forth fruits meet for repentance, he ought not to be 
so considered or treated. 

4. I maintain, and as it seems to me have proved, that slave- t 
holding, as defined by the civil laws of this country, and as 
commonly practiced in the church as well as out of it, is such an 
act of oppression and injustice, such a transgression of God's 
law, and of the precepts of Christ and the apostles, that he who 
is guilty of it ought not to be fellowshipped as a Christian. 

I say slaveholding as defined by the laws and commonly prac- 
ticed. I speak not of the name, but the thing itself— not of 
exceptions, where the genuine spirit of slaveholding and the treat- 
ment which naturally grows out of it arc wanting — but of the 
general rule — the common practice. If a slaveholder who hopes 
that he has been truly converted, on being definitely and fully 
instructed in his duty to his slaves, as taught by Christ and his 
apostles, is willing to perform his duty towards them, and they 
are willing on that condition to remain with him, and he proves 
faithful, doing as he would be done by, abstaining from all acts 
of fraud and oppression, rendering to them that which is just 
and equal ; and, consequently, duly respects all their rights, and 
so far as possible guards against the possibility of their being 
deprived of these rights by others ; I do not withdraw fellow- 
ship from that man on account of his being called a slaveholder. 
I like not the name ; there is an odium attached to it which this 
man ought not to bear, inasmuch as he is a slaveholder only in 
name, and not in reality ; — and then there is great danger that 
while he is thus miscalled a slaveholder, others will derive en- 
couragement from his reputation to persist in the most unjusti- 
fiable oppression. There seems to be no way to clear the church 
entirely from this scandal but by its members universally putting 
away from them even the iiame of slaveholding. Still a fair and 
just discrimination is ever to be made between the mere name 
and the deplorable reality. I am satisfied that he who is a 
slaveholder only in name, and whose general course of life, and 
treatment of his servants are in accordance with the gospel, may 
be, and doubtless is, a truly upright and Christian man ; and 
ought to be so considered and received. 

But I say again, that my business is not with these exceptions, 
which are uncommon, but with slaveholding as it is ;^ as it is in 
the church ; with real slaveholding ; with that which robs a 
man of all the inalienable rights of humanity; and unjustly 
holds him in hopeless boncj^ge. This, I maintain, is an im 


morality ; a sin against both God and man, which never oright 
to have b^icn suffered to pollute God's heritage ; which has no 
more right to be in the church than Satan had to be in Para- 
dise. Churches which have grown up amid slavery, which were 
in their very origin constituted, at least in part, of slaveholders, 
may view the matter diflferently. They may be too near tliis 
enormity to get a full and correct view of it ; or too much un- 
der its influence, and crushed by its power to deliver themselves 
from it. But 1 appeal to all men who stand aloof from the evil 
and are qualified to judge of it impartially ; to all good ministers 
and enlightened Christian people ; to all the great Ecclesiastical 
Bodies in the free States of the Union and in foreign lands ; 
whether slaveholding, as generally practiced, is not entirely con- 
trary to the gospel, and a thing too abominable to be tolerated 
in the church of Christ. These bodies have testified already, 
in terms too explicit and positive to be misunderstood. 

" Slavery," they affirm, '' is directly contrary to the spirit and 
the gospel of Christ — and utterly sinful before God. Those 
who practice it are guilty of conduct flagrantly immoral." 

" The Word of Qod is utterly opposed to slavery. It is a 
great sin against both God and man — a most threatening evil." 

" It is inconsistent with natural justice ; and utterly at vari- 
ance with the principles of the Bible — a great hindrance to the 
progress of the gospel." 

" Slaveholding is an outrage on the rights and happiness of 
our fellow-men ; for which there is no justification or apology." 

" A tremendous evil — utterly inconsistent with the law of 
God ; and totally irreconcilable with the spirit and the precepts 
of the gospel of Christ." 

" A system of iniquity, utterly incurable, and before earth 
and heaven abominable — tending, directly and powerfully, to 
hinder the progress of the gospel ; to corrupt and disgrace the 
church ; and to destroy the souls both of the oppressors and the 

*' A foul system, with which no holy being in the universe can 
have any sympathy." 

Such is the solemn testimony not of a few individuals of pre- 
judiced minds and violent tempers ; nor of bodies of men who 
have organized themselves for the express purpose of making 
war upon slavery ; but of large Ecclesiastical Bodies of various 
denominations ; and distinguished for their intelligence, modera- 
tion, and brotherly kindness. Their testimony refers to slave- 
holding in the church as well as out of it ; and is undeniably 

And this enormous system of iniquity does not exist without 

supporters ; it is not within the pale of the church, practicing there 
its abominations, without the consent of the church. And if the 
Ecclesiastical Bodies to which these churches belong have no 
power over it, it is because these churches have purposely con- 
stituted them without any such power, so that they may persist 
in slaveholding undisturbed by their action. These bodies are 
the representatives of the churches, and closely allied with them 
in their views, feelingg, and habits. It is not to be expected 
that streams will rise above their sources. Of slaveholding 
churches. Synods, General Assemblies, and Conferences, Isaiah's 
description of the Jewish Church is mournfully true, ^' The 
whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint." 

TliesG churches and larger bodies have been entreated to put 
this crying evil away ; numerous and solemn remonstrances 
against slaveholding have been addressed to them. But they 
refuse to hear. They say let us alone. They are more than 
formerly attempting to justify themselves on scriptural ground ; 
and many of their members are holding their victims with a 
firmer grasp. This is no matter of discouragement. Men are 
accustomed to contend strongly against unwelcome truth before 
they yield to it. The power of disease is never more apparent 
than when specific remedies are driving it from its strong holds. 
Slaveholding in the churches, with no doubt some few excep- 
tions, is not merely nominal — but it is the living and stern 
reality — that very system of outrage and iniquity which the 
civil laws have authorized — it is that accursed system which 
deprives human beings of all their inalienable rights — which 
seizes them at their birth and dooms them to abject and cruel 
servitude for life. Those who do these things in the church, as 
well as out of it, do them freely; and with determination to 
persevere in them. The churches sufier them to do so, without 
an efibrt to convince them of the evil of their ways, and" to bring 
them to repentance. And the Ecclesiastical Bodies organized 
by those churches tolerate them, and at least indirectly, counten- 
ance them in their gross neglect of duty ; and will not hear 
Christian remonstrance on account of their so doinoj. 

In this state of things, what is the duty of those Ecclesiasti- 
cal Bodies which have declared slaveholding to be a great sin 
against both God and man, and those who voluntarily practice 
it to be guilty of conduct flagrantly immoral ? Suppose gam- 
bling, intemperance, piracy, and such like crimes, were known to 
be extensively practiced and tolerated by any division of the 
church with which we have been holding brotherly correspond- 
ence ; what would the gospel require us to do ? Suppose the 
government of our nation should so alter the laws as to sufier 


the people to engage freely, as in former times, in the foreign 
slave trade ; and many of the members of the Southern churches 
should avail themselves of the privilege ; and the churches should 
tolerate their conduct, what would the gospel require us to do ? 
While I am writing, a war of conquest is waged by our country 
against Mexico, and great anxiety is manifested, in high places, 
to make that Republic bear both the odium and the expense of 
the war. Suppose Congress, wanting other available resources, 
should order the numerous prisoners who have been taken, to be 
sent home by our officers, and sold in the Southern markets for 
slaves ; and that in view of the superior beauty and accomplish- 
ments of such slaves, they should be eagerly sought after, in 
preference to those of African descent ; and church members, 
among others, should throng the markets, and bid off many of 
them, and drive them home in chains, and subject them to pre- 
cisely such servitude as their negro servants are enduring ; and 
the church should suffer it, and still retain these slave-dealers 
in good fellowship ; what would the gospel require us to do ? 
Anything ? This mode of procuring and holding slaves is pre- 
cisely that which some would have us believe the apostles appro- 
bated. The Roman government was almost perpetually waging 
wars of conquest against other countries, and their victorious 
generals were in the habit of sending or bringing home multi- 
tudes of their captives for slaves. No matter of what nation 
they were ; what were their accomplishments, or had been their 
standing in society in their respective countries. Suppose the 
Mexicans should, in their turn, subject such of our officers and 
men as they have been enabled to capture (for they have taken 
a few), to degrading and hojDcless slavery ; that they should sell 
them at auction like beasts, and treat them as our people do 
their slaves ; would the gospel justify their conduct ? Does any 
rational being believe that they could fairly justify themselves 
by the example of the apostolical churches ? Impossible. 

If, in any case, the churches with which we hold correspond- 
ence should do or tolerate any of these evil things, we should 
be at no loss in regard to what the gospel would require us to 
do. We should consider ourselves bound to remonstrate, earn- 
estly, against the practice of those iniquities ; and when remon- 
strance failed, bound to cease from all such correspondence as 
we had been holding with them ; and to inform them, expressly, 
for what cause we had felt constrained thus to withdraw. " From 
every brother," and of course from every church, " that walketh 
disorderly, withdraw thyself.'''* " Let no man deceive you with 
vain words ; for because of these things cometh the wrath of 
God upon the children of disobedience. Be not ye therefore 


partakers with them." Such, beyond all doubt, is the right 
course to be pursued in all such cases ; especially in all cases of 
immorality or heresy in portions of the church lying beyond the 
reach of our acknowledged authority. As we are free in enter- 
ino- into a fraternal correspondence with them, so we are free to 
cease from such correspondence, for any sufficient cause. After 
due admonition, we must withdraw from those who practice or 
tolerate among them anything flagrantly contrary to the gospel, 
and scandalous to the Christian profession. 

Slaveholding constitutes no exception to this general rule. 
After all which has been said or written in its defence, or for the 
purpose of saving from merited censure those who practice it ; 
after all the efforts which have been made to gain for slave- 
holders generally the favor which may justly be claimed by the 
few whose slaveholding is merely nominal, and who treat then- 
voluntary servants as the gospel requires ; the great system still 
lies under the condemnation of the Christian world ; and those 
whose practice goes to uphold it, remain charged with flagrant 
immorality. The same course then should be pursued in this 
case as in other cases of open heresy and iniquity. The slave - 
holding bodies with which we are in fellowship have been ad- 
monished and entreated once and again, without success. ^ They 
refuse to hear. If such admonition has been tried sufficiently, 
it is plainly our duty, next, to withdraw from them ; and to in-* 
form them that we have felt constrained to do so on account of 
their toleration among them of this great outrage on humanity, 
religion, and all righteousness. 

If, after all the protestations which the Ecclesiastical Bodies 
of New England have uttered against slaveholding, they con- 
tinue to have communion with slaveholders, and to extend to 
those bodies which patronize the accursed institution the right 
hand of fellowship by^sending delegates to them and receiving 
delegates from them, as though no such evil existed among them, 
we must, by an impartial world, be considered guilty of the 
grossest inconsistency. If slavery is not what we have declared 
it to be, common honesty requires that we should, without de- 
lay, retract our declarations and make due acknowledgment of 
the wrong which we have done in censuring, so severely, those 
who practice it. But, if we believe the ground which we have 
taken to be true and just ; then let us maintain ^ it, without 
shrinking, and wholly withdraw from those who persist in doing 
what, in our opinion, both the law and the gospel of God so ex- 
pressly condemn. What is to be gained by deferring this de- 
cisive step any longer ? The slaveholding churches are taking 
no measure to deliver themselves from this iniquity •, the gospel 


as preached among them is, in reference to this matter, without 
point or power, and can never effect a removal of this deadly 
evil ; they will not allow our delegates to declare plainly, in 
their assemblies, the sentiments of their constituents ; and it is 
coming to be thought almost discourteous for us in our own Asso- 
ciations and Conferences to declare what we believe, in the pre- 
sence of their delegates. What then is to be gained by main- 
taining our present correspondence and fellowship ? 

Will it be said that we have more influence with them now 
than we should have if we withdraw — that to withdraw at pre- 
sent would at least be highly inexpedient ? It vis to be seriously 
feared that, as things now are, our testimony against slavery is 
at least completely neutralized, by treating slaveholders and 
those who tolerate them in the church, with such cordiality as 
w^e do — that our influence has been in fact more in favor of 
slavery than against. In this way we disgrace ourselves and 
injure the Southern churches, instead of doing them any real 
good. Doubtless we shall find in the end that no course but the 
straight forward course of obedience to the gospel was expedi- 
ent, either for them or for us. If all professed Christians, all 
ministers and churches, and larger Ecclesiastical Bodies, who 
believe slaveholding to be wrong, to be a great sin against both 
God and man, would refuse to have fellowship with all such pro- 
fessed Christians as practice or tolerate it, their influence against 
it would, beyond all doubt, be far greater and more powerful 
than it now is. Slaveholding churches, left alone in their ini- 
quity, cut off from all fellowship with other churches, and the 
Christian world, would be led to serious reflection ; they would 
feel their position to be most undesirable ; and such among them 
as fear God, and regard the honor of his cause, would be induced 
to unite their energies to deliver themselves from the disgrace 
and guilt which must ever be involved i« the practice of this 
great iniquity. 

But, while we withhold fellowship from churches and other 
Ecclesiastical Bodies which tolerate slavery, and from ministers 
and church members who are known to practice it, we should 
remember with sympathy and favor such other individuals, minis- 
ters, churches, and Ecclesiastical Bodies, as, in the same con- 
nexions, neither practice, nor willingly tolerate the evil, but 
are with us seeking to deliver the church and nation from it. 
Due discrimination in such a case ought, surely, to be made. 

In the Presbyterian connexion, as we are assured by good au- 
thority, the Synods of Michigan, Ohio, Cincinnati, Indiana, 
Illinois, and Peoria, including twenty-seven or more Presby 
teries, have taken the ground that slaveholding — not its abuflOP 


merely — but slavehohUng^ should, by due process of discipline, 
be excluded from the church. A large portion of these Pres- 
byteries have also taken action of their own, to the same effect. 
In addition, connected with other Synods, the same ground has 
been taken by the Presbyteries oi Champlain, Otsego, Onondaga, 
Genesee, Niagara, Angelica, Montrose, Meadville, Grand River, 
Huron, and some others. See Rev. A. A. Phelps' Reply to 
Dr. Bacon. If these bodies judge that they can operate more 
efficiently against sliiveholding by retaining their connexions, 
still longer, with slaveholding churches, we leave them to act in 
accordance with their own convictions of duty. To their own 
Master they stand or fall. May God enable them to stand, 
and prosper. We are ready, to the extent of our power, 
to encourage and help them. Should their endeavors to deliver 
the slaveholding bodies with which they are connected, from 
this great wickedness and scandal, prove successful, we will unite 
with them in praise to Him who holds the hearts of men in his 
hand, and without whose special blessing all efforts for the re- 
moval of this deep-rooted and deadly evil must surely prove 

But should they fail in their endeavors, and become con- 
vinced that their present position promises no better prospects 
of success, then it will be plainly their duty to come o^t, and be 
separate from all further connexion with slaveholding churches ; 
and we unite on higher and better ground ; — on ground sacred 
to truth and righteousness, to both civil and religious liberty ; 
where slavery would no more dare to appear than it will in 
Heaven. May God not only make plain their path of duty and 
ours, but incline and help us all to do that which is right and 
just before him ; and give us the infinite satisfaction of seeing 
the entire church of Christ, in this and in all lands, shining 
forth in the beauties of holiness ; and uniting with every friend 
of God in praises to his name, that slaveholding can no longer 
be found, either in the church, or anywhere on earth. 


Since the foregoing pages were written, six hundred and 
sixteen ministers of the Freewill Baptist denomination have re- 
affirmed the noble declaration of sentiments on the subject of 
slavery, mentioned on page 16 as having been made by three 
hundred and ninety-six ministers of that connexion in 1847. 

54 W 

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